follow me (btw, did I mention the cost?)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21.18-19 | ESV
Then Jesus adds, “You can COUNT on this: When you were young and in control, you dressed how and when you wanted and went where you wanted. But when you get old and grey, the day is coming when they will come for you, your hands will be stretched out, and you’ll wear something you’d rather not, and they’ll take you to a place you’d rather not.” (Nudge, nudge, hint, hint – Jesus painting a picture of shameful crucifixion as his ultimate path of a God-honoring death that the Rock couldn’t miss – because feeding his flock will have its cost). And then Jesus says, motioning with his head, “Follow me.” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
“I’m ready to go to prison – I’m ready to go to my death for you!”
That’s what Peter said.
That’s what they all said.
Except perhaps John, content to lean on the heart of his friend. Perhaps.
I’ve done hundreds of wedding ceremonies over three decades plus of ministry. Hundreds. Hundreds of vows, of mutual “I do’s,” of exchanged rings and “repeat after me” moments. I’m increasingly struck by the fact as I perform these ceremonies that I could just as well be saying “Blah blah blah blah” not because I don’t believe them or because bride and groom aren’t sincere, but because they have no idea what they are really saying “yes” to when they say “I do.”. “In sickness and in health, for better or for worse.” No idea. How could they? Typically it’s a young couple filled with love and enough bravado to take on each other as they take on the world with an endless track of “Don’t Stop Believing” repeating in their minds.
Which is as it should be.
But those vows will be become real one day in raw depths they could not have imagined – and then they will know. Oh yes, there is a cost here, isn’t there?
The cross of Christ was also the crucible of Cephas. It suddenly became very real. He saw himself, and it broke him. Seeing himself again now through a Savior’s penetrating and healing gaze, he sees the path before him in refreshed light. This path leads not to an altar of success or an elevated platform of esteem. Prison and death did you say? Oh yes, this is coming for you. And you won’t want it, but it will come, still.
He is the Master, yes?
We could learn a thing or two from him as we make our own sales pitch for Christ, if we would. God has a plan for your life! Oh yes. You will be stretched out, and you won’t want to go.
So come on then. What are you waiting for? This way…
In what ways has your commitment to follow Christ become “real”? What cost have you had to pay so far? What prepares us to pay the price we must in our pursuit of the God-Life?
Oh Lord, what quaking feet and quivering lips when I am confronted with the harsh realities of where life leads, where my calling and walk with you leads. Give me the grace to find the joy in it and in you, that even as my arms are stretched out in postures I would never assume, I will feel your pleasure, even there. Through Christ.